When Transportation Makes All the Difference

A black woman against a blue background in a half circle. A young child on a bus is behind her.

When Denita Jones and a college classmate decided to start their own business, they had nothing but a modest savings and a vision to help others. Today, Trinity Behavioral Health Services is a full-fledged company that’s changing the lives of people in and around the Jackson, Mississippi, area. And transportation is playing a major role.

Denita was a student at Jackson State University when the idea for the start-up first came into being.

“My good friend … she’s a licensed clinical social worker,” Denita said in an interview with Fast Forward. “She called me and said, ‘I’m starting my own behavioral health clinic … do you want to be a part of this?’”

The idea was to create a company that would provide mental health care for juvenile offenders and the elderly. Denita, who already knew that she wanted a career serving the public, jumped on board with little hesitation. Denita said her mother, a teacher, and her father, a police officer, gave her this desire to serve.

“So I said to [my friend], ‘okay … that sounds interesting.’”

Screenshot image from video interview with Denita Jones, founder of Trinity Behavioral Health.

Click a button to watch an interview with Denita Jones.

But getting Trinity off the ground wouldn’t be easy. In fact, when the friends first started out, Denita was working for free.

“Her husband and herself, they delved into their savings, and I didn’t take a salary. We were just working because that’s something we believed in and it was something that was needed in our area,” Denita said.

But before long, Trinity had its first clients—children and teenagers who had had rough lives, and who needed care and support to get back on track. And soon after, the company achieved its first major victory: a partnership with a local juvenile detention center. This would mean more clients to serve—more lives to change. Interestingly enough, it was transportation that would make the difference and help launch Trinity into the main stream.

“When we went to the detention center to say why we would be a good agency to partner with, they were floored when we said we were going to offer transportation. Transportation turned out to be the missing element that the detention center was looking for.”

“They said they had so many people coming in and offering these services, but transportation was their missing element. With that transportation element … instead of making a child go to a residential treatment facility—taking them away from home and sending them off for 30 days, 60 days—they can stay at home and get the same intensive therapy, but be at home with that support group. That’s what was missing, and we offered that.”

Today, Trinity continues to grow to serve more clientele, and transportation continues to be an important part of their treatment plan.

Trinity will pick-up a client from home or school so there is no reason to miss his or her counseling or therapy session. They also do incentives like providing a gas card that can be used on Saturday so a parent does not have to miss work during the week.

Denita, herself, is finishing her doctorate in public policy and administration. She tells Fast Forward readers that she feels transportation will continue to play an important role in her career.

"When I got in public policy, I discovered that a lot of things I was interested in directly correlated with the transportation sector. When you think public policy, you think just strictly politics. You think senators and representatives. But it’s a lot more indepth than that. And I think public policy and transportation, they go hand-in-hand, because both are public servants."

Aaron Mack
Fast Forward: Volume 2 Issue 3 – Public and Active Transportation